By Prince Charles Dickson

So, I went last week to buy a “reliable” made in China Casio calculator, it even had the benefit of also being a scientific calculator too. I just could not trust my regular calculator; the one on my phone as an application, I use that to calculate how much I need to give madam, girlfriend, religious obligations, family trench, utility bills like NEPA abi na DISCO, I use it to add, minus, and multiply especially this January when all kind of fees have to be paid; from school fees, to daily, weekly fuel waka…the expenses are plenty, and indeed income not as plenty.

But truth is I needed this NEW calculator, and to Okechukwu’s Bookshop on Ahmadu Bello way, I went with my friend Adegoke as witness to buy it. After parting with a few lower notes, I was a proud owner of the product.

Wonder why I have teased us with the last two paragraphs on purchasing a mere calculator, I will share with us my admonition on this “calculator” ordeal.  Kindly bear with me, as we go through the next few paragraphs.

First despite my Casio being scientific, there was no scientific methodology to really guide me, and you–my dear reader would pardon my clumsy arithmetic, and my mumbo-jumbo procedure but please stay with me briefly, and we will be done.

With my calculator, and a long sheet of plain paper, and a cup of green tea, laced with pure blossom honey, and wheat bread, I was bent on “enjoying” what I predicted would be a nasty exercise.

I started with a few of the Abacha loot that was returned in the last few years…they read like $65,$300, $40, $37 all in millions, and that’s like $442million according to my calculator.

We remember that movie shortly after the oil subsidy protest…it featured a certain Otedola, Farouk and a few special appearances, and $3million vamoosed, only a few days in Kuje, and a visit from members of the Kano legislative house, Farouk went away and sinned no more…Total$445million

How many of remain, the James Bond series, yes James Bond, because any oil related theft is often than not a James Bond sequel…It involved Dan Etete, and his cast, and crew, after all said and done, the Malabu oil deal made sure that $1.1billion developed wings…Total$1.5billion, or before I confuse, 1.1billion dollars jam 445million dollars.

Okay, lets leave dollars small and deal in Naira; I will come back to it.

Do we recall Abubakar Kigo dude, of the ‘police pension things’, he escaped with N33billion, and then Abdulrasheed Maina then disappeared with another N195billion from “pension things” things. TotalN228billion

I am sure we have forgotten that Steve Oransanya, he was supposed to correct something-onething in the civil service or so, by the time he was done, N123billion was allegedly done and gone too. TotalN351billion

At this point, my tea don dey cold, and bread tasteless, while my calculator was getting hot, and I had not reached halfway.

I refused to add the missing “oyel” money during Diezani and Sanusi war, as some say money no miss, and others say money miss but e no reach so-so billion dollars. I rest my case.

I refuse to add the Donatus Dasuki ATM dispensary arrangement because (1) the money no reach me, (2) People are still confessing, returning, and maybe, just maybe, we may hear that APC also have a similar bazar. However I hanged the $2.1billion in one column as “tattered” sorry Chartered Accountants do in Nigeria.

It only gets interesting, as my plain sheet was become littered with figures and zeros in countless repetitions, I came to the governors, there were cases of the known, while other were the unknown.

For example, IN THE KNOWN COLUMN: they” say Joshua took a few millions from Ecological and other funds, James also increased his, it was up to a few billions, the late Alams also helped himself. And Goje printed OXFORD or was it CAMBRIDGE dictionaries for several millions. Add, the Jolly man from Taraba, and my friend Boni, and the bubbling Susan, and his predecessor, just to mention a few. We all remember that Ribadu said that one Sharia dude like that even refused to use a bank, he packed his own dough raw. Infact, in those days some $15million was offered as bribe—Chai, and if Ribadu is to be believed some 30 governors were thieving.

Hence I do not agree with the former EFCC helmsman, let me just do this simple maths, based on the KNOWN COLUMN: Let me say only 20 governors stole, and each stole N1million per month, that would be N12million per year multiplied by 16 years that would equal N192million and then multiply that by just 20 governors, that would be N3.840billion. I added this to our N351billion and we got N354.840 billion

I was beginning to feel dizzy, as I added Perm Secs who stole a few millions, heads of parastatals who helped themselves with some crazy sums through ridiculous subheads, like I recall how millions were in the NNDC budget for funerals, like every staff in the organization must die.

I added the monies that disappeared in millions from Funds, like the Educational Trust Fund, Petroleum Trust Fund, Ecological Trust Fund, Industrial Trust Fund, just check, if the name ended with an F, funds were stolen. I added the ones stolen by our lawmakers, even though it was “stolen legitimately” either via third term, or some allowance or money to do onething-something or buy some car with five tyres. I also added monies that were stolen by local council runs-men and women, monies that disappeared in Ministries.

At this point, my calculator was HOT, RED, and could barely even sure the regular ERROR message, even the scientific part of the calculator was not working, as I had converted the dollar to Naira, and was trying to add up, all my eyes could now see on the once plain paper was an endless count of zeros like big heads.

And in Fela’s words, need “I wonder how this country come take get big head”. My calculator could not continue, I just stared in trance, at how Nigerians were undoing Nigeria, I had barely touched the surface of monumental government stealing, and we are arguing, who stole less, or more or justifying that everyone steals. I end this admonishment asking, oh ye foolish Nigerians, for how much longer—Only time would tell.

Does Nigeria concern you?

Posted: January 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We grab a dog with the hands and it escapes; thereafter we beckon it with two fingers. (If both hands cannot detain a dog, two fingers from a distance will not bring it to where it escaped from.)

Sometime in 2012 I wrote under the above title, “How Nigeria take concern me”. A lot in that particular admonition still resonates with us, and I see it important to remind us with a few lines in that essay, and in the light of a new year.

‘Concern’ is an English word, used both as a verb either reflective or passive, and as a noun.

1. Concern means to relate to; to be connected with; be of interest or importance to; affect: The state of killings ‘concerns’ us.

2. Used in the passive, to interest or engage: We should ‘concern’ ourselves with how we are governed.

3. To trouble, worry: Are you ‘concerned’ about how much will be spent feeding persons in the villa?

4. As a noun–something that relates or pertains to a person; business; affair: Nigeria should be the ‘concern’ of every Nigerian.

5. A matter that engages a person’s attention, interest, or care, or that affects a person’s welfare or happiness: ‘Concerning’ Nigeria, there is need for government to provide social services.

How does defining ‘concern’ concern you…interestingly the word ‘concern’ finds home in our local lingua called pidgin and in my admonition this week, I ask in local parlance taking into cognizance the working definition and the thread meaning– does Nigeria ‘concern’ you, how ‘e take concern’ you, Nigeria dey worry you…?

Is there need for apprehension, are we drifting towards distress, should we be perturbed, troubled or bothered about the construct called Nigeria and her people?

For example, how ‘e take concern’ me and you how a man of ‘god’ chooses to display his wealth, or are we ‘concerned’ by the fact that in the midst of lack a lot of folks will spend money in crude fashion to obtain passports to heaven. The reason why Nigerians are more concerned about the early year prophecies from the many “god” of men around, than whether the government is on the right path.

I don’t know about you, but I am concerned and uneasy that we still have ghost schools, ghost teachers, fake graduates, and in a nation that seeks PhD teachers, we get PhD drivers by default of availability not choice. Indeed we talk trucks because the nation lacks an efficient train haulage system, so we strain roads that are already death traps. So I am concerned about Buhari’s train-promise…

In almost comical fashion in one mouthful we are all concerned in unison that ethnic nepotism, parapoism, sickening ‘unfederal discharacter’ is a major ill in our society. But in typically crying more than the bereaved or showing more concern than the ‘concerned’ attitude. We get anxious and disturbed by the terms, ‘they, them, us, our, we, their, those’ all depending on convenience and yet we want a united Nigeria to ‘concern’ us.

My friend and brother, Benjamin Aduba, in Boston puts it this way and I rephrase in this manner…”Nigerians want change, so long as the change no ‘concern’ them, …for others to change but not for me to change”.

We are all concerned about corrupt politicians and persons are punished, but as long as the culprit is our enemy.

We show concern in very queer manner by honoring same people that have turned our collective harvest to personal fiefdoms with institutional awards, traditional titles, as long as the person is from our side, all other things should not concern us.

We are concerned to paranoid if the government is to build or do something good, which is rare, it must be for us, with us, and by us or else it is not good. It concerns me more than anybody…if Dasuki’s rights are violated but does it concern us about the many that are in cell without even a case file.

Does it concern you that we generate power individually, buy portable water, educate our kids privately, provide healthcare for our families, both immediate and extended, run micro welfare and social security systems for family, and relatives, and still create other infrastructures despite being milked in taxes from a meager 18k stipend for those being paid that much…and still some governors even muse a reduction.

The problem with our ‘concerns’ is a top-down, down-up systemic failure. Like we are programmed towards grinding to halt, rather than repair, we are so accustomed to cosmetic dressing, ala Dr. 90210… So we focus our ‘concern’ on leadership, when it is as much a problem with followership.

Do you feel concerned that we are raising a dangerous mixed grill society with kids largely ‘schooled’ abroad, with allegiances to other nations and a home bred population of children denied education outrightly?

Don’t we feel irritated that, it is the same five and five pence from Umuahia, to Jos, Oshogbo to Minna, Sokoto to Eket, same political class and patrons displaying stupendous wealth in the ‘ very before’ of lack?

If one is not concerned, if you don’t care, if we are not bothered, we may be behind our comfort zone, there may be ease but it’s not calm…I may not be worried, you may not be troubled or see distress in Nigeria, you may be the eternal optimist, or cautious optimist, our hope may cloud reality, however let us remember that the leopard’s stealthy gait is not a result of cowardice…our actions or inaction is being stalked.

The Yorubas say “were were nikan njele” meaning slowly, slowly is the manner in which termites consume a house, our inconspicuous and imperceptible problems in time are piling…if ‘e no concern you now, e go concern you soon’

We have very little history of who we are as a country, at every turn in national discourse like the axiom, aki í fi ìyá ẹní dákú ṣeré, we joke that our mother has collapsed, always trifling with serious matters, playing with a loaded and primed gun. Forgetting that one does not hide something in one’s hand and yet swear [that one knows nothing about it]. We know our problems, but does it really concern us– only time will tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

“When a people have suffered for too long, they will drink fairytales on fairylands with insatiable gullibility.” (Hamilton Ayuk)

So my admonition this week dwells with a section of Nigeria–the North and it is a do-no-favors essay, call it the truth, or falsehood, call it nonsense, be bitter or be complimentary about it, I really do not care–or better still I care enough to tell us the way I see it.

The words of Malcolm X sum up my next few paragraphs. “You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it.”

Religion remains the opium of not only the mind, but also the poor, not by choice but by the way it holds people bondage, leaving them devoid of common sense.

The myth–Aboki is supposedly an Hausa term that is used to describe the man up North, he may be hausa, nupe, berom, fulani, shua, but largely he is ignorantly Hausa to all and poor, he is either mai-guard (gateman), mai-ruwa (water), mai shai (tea), mai-doya (yam), mai-reke (sugarcane), mai-miaa (blackmarket fuel); whatever he is, he just has to be mai-something or mai-everything. He is a symbolism today to other Nigerians of violence and false face of Islam. He is ‘misunderstandingly’ understood.

Then we have the Alhaji, he is everything above ‘cept that he is presumed rich, and in recent times dangerous too, he could be a sponsor of Boko Haram too, but for a ‘typical’ southerner, there is the allure of his riches whether via politics, oil, or ‘voodoo’ who cares. He is there in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos. He really doesn’t care about his North; he is a hypocrite to the core without his knowledge.

Now to more of those mythical realities and issues, that has left a region on her knees, no other time than now has the North faced an identity crisis and fight within herself. Who are the Hausas, who are the Fulanis, and how about the Hausa- Fulanis, what really is the place of the Islam in the North, is it real, a media creation, and how about the Christians in the North?

Is the North still united, as was the case, what about her oligarchy and a few leftist socialist activists that set the talakawa agenda, what happened?

What is it that needs to be understood about the alamajiri system and institutional begging in the North?

The North and the agitating Middle Belt is an emotional wreck, a perfect picture of an abused bride that today is even afraid of a hug of reconciliation, with rehabilitation and reconstruction a far cry.

If the North decides to go away from Nigeria, will the other component part fight to keep it and would it be really 19 states, is Plateau North, when there’s no love lost between the Plateau people and the North, does Taraba believe in North, Southern Kaduna, parts of Nassarawa, Benue, Kogi etc?

People still believe that up North we are all empty land mass and goats, unproductive, and leeching termites stuck on Nigeria because of the oil, if not, why the hue and cry of PIB when Zamfara’s mines are gold for the asking and we could develop a self-sufficient and exportable agrarian community?

We don’t share Boko Haram’s ideologies, according to Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima, but really who believes him or us. What is the Arewa ideology?

So much is wrong with the North–I challenge my brothers from Katsina/Jigawa/Kebbi/Zamfara etc to tell me two companies that make 30 million naira a month after salaries are paid and utilities are sorted.

The huge army of unemployed youths in the North points to the fact that there is urgent need for the revival of the Northern economy and job creation.

How many Ashaka/Larfarge cement companies do we have in the North, NASCO in Jos is dead, funeral rites only being delayed baring a miracle, and same for the Kaduna textiles industry.

What and where have the billions of 14years gone to in the North? Universities out of private initiative litter the South and up here what are we doing, arguing who has suffered more casualties between Christians/Muslims. Debating whether the army or Shi’ites are at fault.

Okay it has to be poverty, that’s one ideological school of thought for the bloodbath and mayhem, even America’s Obama thinks so, however, I agree only to the extent that really … “countries are not delivering for their people and there are sources of conflict and underlining frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with”. In this case, the North has failed herself.

The North has equally failed…“to give her people opportunity, education and resolve conflicts through regular democratic processes,”.

…“In terms of human capital and young people, I think the greatest investment any country can make, not just an African country, is educating its youth and providing them with the skill to compete in a highly technological, advanced world economy”.

Nigeria has failed in this regard and the North has woefully crashed in same vein.

The Southwest is chasing a semblance of regional integration; the South East and South-South are not left out. States have even gone ahead to show/use their emblem/insignia and are creating identities. We are still seen as Fulani herdsmen asking for reserves on other peoples’ lands, blamed for every farmer’s clash and seeking nomadic education because we can’t do regular school.

We need to bash ourselves, the North, Arewa if indeed it still exists, needs to stop lying to itself and her people, there are current realities, where do we fit into it?

We need top realize that our leaders have failed us, the North is not working, yes, whether believed, debated or not, we are on the throne via Buhari, whether he is for anybody, somebody or all body, we need to reinvent the North, we need to tackle poverty, lack of infrastructure, lack of security and peace, for these elements are neither Shi’ites or Sunnis, Tijaniyya nor Wahhabism and Salafiyya…

I will end this admonition in the words of one of the problem sons of the North, Bro. TY Danjuma, “We need to think more, pray more, plan more, work harder, RELATE BETTER, and talk less. Battles are better fought and won through wisdom and strategy than through inflammable pronouncements and political tantrums.” The current hate quotient in the land is high–for how long, only time will tell.

If ONLY Dasuki gave me my share…

Posted: December 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

 A man took his goat to the market, after negotiation, another man agreed to buy. The buyer brought out the money to pay, but both the seller and buyer were distracted by an activity in the market.

While they concentrated on this distraction the goat chewed all the money in the buyers hand. Thereby raising several questions, one of such is, who owns the goat, the buyer or the seller?

I live in a conflict prone area of Nigeria, so the sight of various security task forces are common place, while many have become accustomed to the situation, nothing beats me, when I see these men in the evening taking delivery of their “Agege bread” from the camo-painted Hilux van every evening.

The sight of one of such prompted my admonition this week on the armsgate saga currently of national space. In my intervention, I would take excerpts from a series of investigative report titled “the cost of war” carried out by Prince Charles Dickson as a part of a FORD FOUNDATION funded Nigerian Investigative Reporting Project coordinated by the ICIR in 2013.

“Samson Dati is a sergeant of the Nigerian Army, he pulls off his boots to show a sore foot, as he tells me “Do you know we are supposed to be given powder to ease sore feet, but I cannot recall ever seeing that, but trust me it is in one budget subhead.”

It is not only powder, but my investigation reveal that a soldier on the frontline is entitled to three liters of water per day, but they hardly get water, and when they do is, at the mercy of the community that they are securing.

A source at the Military High Command, insists, “we want to provide most of these things, but none of them is reflected in the budget, we are at war, you cannot be using a routine budget to prosecute a war.”

The poor state of army gear is a tip of the problems, as this my investigation reveals, the Nigerian Army is bedeviled with corruption in recruitment, budgets, criminal defense contractors amongst many other problems.

Budgetary fraud

In the last four years, the Military received the highest budgetary estimate, but investigation revealed little or none goes to equipment and other necessary kitting.

Airforce personnel Michael Choji, revealed that it was all media glitz, “we are worried about campaigns in the media that we are well funded or equipped.

Breakdown

In the 2013 budget, the allocation for the Ministry of Defence, it got a total recurrent (Personnel and overhead) of N20,044,809,028 and total capital budget of N2,902,547,929.

Defence Headquarters got a total recurrent of N845,859,208 and total capital of N1,322,060,000.

For Nigerian Army, total recurrent of N121,246,789,959 and a total capital budget of N8,763,468,000.

The Nigerian Navy had N58,312,400,621 for total recurrent and N15,035,919,070 for capital budget.

The Nigerian Airforce was given N63,921,863,341 for recurrent expenditure and N14,235,430,050 for capital budget.

A further breakdown and analysis simply show that out of a total budget of N364,415,146,885 for 2013, N300,402,146,886 was for recurrent, while barely N64,013,000,000 was for capital project.

Corruption

What it shows is that the entire armed forces that is fighting a well-oiled insurgent group like Boko Haram, got only N39, 356,877,120.

Interestingly, the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, which houses the department for State Security DSS, National Intelligence Agency NIA, Presidential Air Fleet and State House got a total of N82.255billion, a whooping N50billion for capital projects.

My investigation revealed that apart from the bemusing figures, according to civilian personnel of the Defence Headquaters *Kolade Abe, “Even the money allocated for the capital projects are not left for the end-users, immediately the budget is signed, it is sharing galore.”

“Presidency officials, members of the National Assembly all besiege the ministry and with complimentary cards and orders from above, they share contracts amongst themselves,” he revealed.

The greed of the politicians and civil servants come into play, as they act as middlemen, arms are not supplied in many cases it was revealed…”

Currently

It is only the naïve in Nigerian Stealing Affairs, which incidentally abbreviated is NSA also) that would sound alarmed, at the current naked dance. Sadly it’s not only Dasukigate or armsgate, but virtually all sorts of open gates of corruption perpetuated in “Naijasphers.

The security vote pickpockets, the super permanent thieves called secretary in the civil service, the judges, the providers of spiritual cleansing, local bribe taker for admission…it’s an endless list of corruption,

The Ex-NSA Dasuki and Kusa transferred ONLY N1.45 billion to Acacia Holdings Limited account for “special prayers” and off course Bafarawa: Ex-gov reportedly received ONLY N4.6bn from Dasuki for “special prayers”. Talking about “special prayers” Dasuki paid ONLY N750 million into the bank account of Reliance Referral Hospital Limited for “special prayers”.

While all these is simply distasteful, one looks on bemusedly as Nigerians debate, whether Dasuki and his sharing crew are guilty or not, whether they are being persecuted or not, or how much APC spent on it’s own campaign, as it is “evident” to a certain level that the NSA’s office was a slush fund center.

Who really owns the goat, the debate continues, I only feel sad, that Nigerians like me, the real soldiers like you, the “us” that suffer the configuration called Nigeria, did not get our share OF ONLY a few good roads, healthcare via a few hospitals, quality education through good number of affordable schools, infrastructure, secured society, I ONLY get scared because if we will ever get anything, it is—Only time will tell.

Why governors cannot pay 18k

Posted: December 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

The Zamfara State Governor and chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara has said it was extremely necessary for the state governors, the presidency and the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC to negotiate over the N18K minimum wage.

The governor said that the dwindling oil prices has drastically affected the revenue generation of most States which can no longer pay salaries of workers.

He stated that therefore no need living under pretense when in reality, the revenues were not coming.

Yari who fielded questions from State House Correspondents after a private meeting with president Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday at the presidential villa also denied making categorical statement on pruning down the wage.

He said: “Let me make it very clear to Nigerians, Governor’s Forum is not the enemy of labour in any way. Rather, we have been working together.

“Although in the decision, we never said that we are going to stop the payment of N18K minimum wage but we are looking at the situation in thcountry and in the global economy.

“What we said is that when the National Assembly enacted the law of paying N18K minimum wage, then the oil was about $118 per barrel and today where we are oil is $41 per barrel.

“So, if it continues like that, definitely, we will find it difficult to continue. We have to sit down with the labour and see how we can review, either continue or downsizing or what we are going to do. We want to find a solution because we have to be realistic that we have so many things to touch. There is infrastructure deficit, there is need for security, and there are other things like social lives of our people and nation as a state.

“The receipt from federation account, some people received N400 million, N500 million. Some others received N55 million, two digits. And there are other issues, not even the salary; their pension is over a billion. So, how can we continue borrowing and servicing the service aspect of our expenditure, or overhead? How can we do that?

“Therefore we are saying that we should tighten our belts. Something definitely, we should sit down and come out of it to find a way we are going to do it realistically or otherwise.”

The dude further went on to argue why it was easy for both Governors Adams Oshiomole and Nyesom Wike of Edo and Rivers States respectively, could possibly pay the 18K; Yari said that the States were rich with industries that in turn raise their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR.

He regretted that some States such as his were not that lucky as most of their revenue generating institutions had been shut down due to power shortages.

“For instance, in my state, the tiny state that is my own which has more than 3 textile plants because of energy all have been closed, NNPC shut down. We have about 37 gunneries because of shortage of power they all closed down. And these are places where we can earn our revenue. You cannot in anyway rub shoulder with Rivers who has giant companies in oil exploration and having so many thousands of staff that are paying their dues when due.

One only needs one read to know that Nigerians are in trouble if Governor Yari’s view is a true representation of 90% of the men that overseer the affairs of state. Apart from the salient issues of fiscal federalism he unconsciously raised, one can see that many of these men called governors lack the initiative to power the ships that they captain.

Very quickly let me remind my readers that only in February last year I had asked sarcastically what really do Nigerian governors do, while outlining a few things they do…may be pertinent in helping us understand why they cannot pay salaries.

So, the men that are asking us to tighten our belts are the same men that on a personal note, entitled to four wives if Muslim, and a wife if a Christian, but scores of them keep a convent/harem of concubines, girlfriends and mistresses,’ In other words, as a governor in Nigeria you cannot/should not be faithful at home, by extension you owe those you govern very little and owe much to your harem/party and godfathers. How can they pay 18K?

Our governors who cannot pay 18K are entitled to senior special assistants/special assistants/advisers (both senior and junior)/countless aides and yes consultants on various subject matters. Which allows for governors to spend an average of 11 full days only in a month at the office and in the state. The rest is spent gallivanting, wedding, naming ceremony, birthday, and death-day, church and mosque occasions, attend meetings in Abuja, and flexing in caucus meetings.

Off course all these happen when they are not in Brazil, Kosovo, Kabul or Kazakhstan seeking investors. In recent times, one governor has gone as far as Chelsea football club to watch football; (sorry) look for investors.

There is no governor in Nigeria that spends an average of 4 hours everyday, 15 days a month and 9 months a year in the office, taking his leave as at when due and handing over to the right person temporarily. But trust me, these ‘guys’ are working so HARD, indeed very HARD to pay 18K.

Our governors tell us how difficult the art of state governance is, and you sure would agree, contending with the opposition, with political enemies from different camps, and sure spending billions unaccounted for must be one hell of a job.

Recently I asked how much do our governors earn for all the hard work? And very few could say. No wonder every one of them tells us how they were all millionaires before they became governors. Yet they cannot pay 18K!

Is there any Nigerian governor with just two cars, with kids in public schools, and less than N100M, then I will show you a lazy governor. Today in assets and cash there is no governor who is not a billionaire.

Beyond 18K minimum wage, we need to start asking questions; we need to demand answers to issues of governance. An old axiom speaks of not touching a blind man’s hand while eating with him…for how long our leaders will continue to touch our hands while they eat–only time will tell.

By Prince Charles Dickson

And the man died…all is vanity upon vanity. And you doubt that God’s ways are mysterious. Na so Abubakar Audu, APC gubernatorial candidate take die, while leading in the inconclusive Kogi polls…May he find rest. The conspiracy theory begins with the living…

And that was my post on social media when the don of Kogi politics passed on, and sincerely there was no pun intended, and as we say, in these parts never speak ill of the dead, however a colleague with a national daily, (not this one) decided to betray his political affiliation and sympathy, his quick response was “Pls Charlse, don’t join in spreading rumor ‘cos you gain nothing or loose nothing, but it diminishes your person as a senseless rumor monger. This is abuse of social media.”

Against my ethic of allowing comments on my page too be reserved for my friends, I responded thus “Aminu…BIG smile, I hope you take it in good faith, I am not a stakeholder in the Kogi elections or politics…I gladly join Premium Times, Saharareporters, Vanguard, Thisday and a host of others in being wrong. If his alive, I would correct same. But in the advent he’s dead, I hope you would be gentleman enough to apologize. On a lighter note, you spelled my name wrongly in your haste to attack.”

Be rest assured that even after Abubakar Audu’s burial he is yet to apologize, I doubt he would apologize because he is either Nigerian or he possibly believes that the Kogi Prince would still resurrect.

Well, the above is not essentially the thrust of my admonition but it’s not far from it, we live in a season where “THEY” are all sick, and spare me, I would mention names, Kingsley Kuku, Diezieni, Nnamadi Sambo, Larmorde, and yes, from information we gathered Audu was equally sick of something…

Popular TV opera, ‘Super Story’ has the cliche,”we are all pencils in the hands of God” the question is how many of us know that, the political history and terrain of Kogi state despite all other heavyweights have been clouded and shadowed by the Audu factor. For example a friend put it this way…”Audu was from the village next to mine. My people saw him as a hero. In fact my mum called me from home and sounded so broken. Why, you may ask? Audu brought the first major road that passes the village when he was commissioner in Benue State. Ever since he left, no one remembers the Olamaboro and Ogugu axis anymore…”

How many people would be weeping now, because he died or because they suddenly have lost out in the power sharing, their mathematics suddenly has taken the shape of geography. I wonder how a nation like Nigeria would have been if only the poor die, or our politicians could buy life.

So would Allison be well, if she was still Minister for Petroleum, would my friend GNS still be alive if he had won the Plateau gubernatorial elections, would Larmorde or Dasuki be sick, if they were still in office?

Would the Falanas, Keyamos, the bar, bench and we the beer be all constitutional minds detailing Audu’s death and the legal implications. I am sure if only Audu knew, he would have just laid back to enjoy the few years God decides to graciously give him, but alas, he issued promissory notes, like allegedly returning stolen wealth.

Now, his deputy watches as history is about to be made or twisted, should he get the nod, or the second runner up in the APC primaries, or an entirely new dude, or like late Okadigbo puts it…there will be political geometry and arithmetic.

Abubakar has played his part, whether voodoo, or African Bluetooth killed him, he has gone to meet his Maker. The living in Nigerian manner are all now, ‘indomie noodles’ imams and pastors suddenly sounding so spiritual, and as if we are all dying next week.

While Wada who could not wade through called the late Audu his brother, and friend; others accused the one and only ‘Jagaban’ of murder by food poison…others recollected Audu’s numerous misdemeanors. I shall end in the following words of Steve Job.

I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I…have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds; I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer…

Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…

Should be something that is more important: Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days …Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth. The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me.

What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches, which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.

Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands. What is the most expensive bed in the world? – “Sick bed” …

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.

Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – “Life”. When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading – “Book of Healthy Life”.

Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down. Sadly actions by actors in the aftermath of Audu’s death only speaks ill of the dead…our actions have not shown love for Kogi, for nation, for God, for family, love for friends and foes…because when we will be called–Only time will tell

 

 

 

By Pius Adesanmi

Elite disconnect – the existential prison which creates the delusion that life, for 180 million Nigerians, is exactly what your life looks like on luxury private jets and yachts, royal suites of five-star hotels, villas and chateaux in the choicest parts of Abuja and Lagos, government house, etc. You have hardly ever met anyone who does not exist inside this bubble. Those who live outside of it but come in to provide you daily domestic services as aides and servants are required to filter what they bring to you from the outside world.

Elite disconnect is a medical condition.

Your world is reduced to a bubble. A bubble of perception. An existential bubble.

The worst case of elite disconnect in recent memory comes from Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the current Emir of Kano. As Central Bank Governor, he was on President Jonathan’s side of the oil subsidy argument before things fell apart between the two of them; before he said some very rude and condescending things to and about the President; before the President tried to destroy him to teach him a lesson; before fate rescued him from the heavy price he would have paid for rudeness and condescension to an elected President.

Before all of these things happened, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had wondered aloud what the fuss was all about when people claimed that the high cost of petrol was having a disastrous impact on their ability to use their generators. Generators use diesel, not petrol, Sanusi had quipped.

Although he later apologized, the damage had been done, the point made. A member of the elite was so disconnected from what 99% of Nigerians call life that he had no idea that not everybody used the sort of diesel-guzzling soundproof Mikano giant generators they use in his closeted bubble of privilege and luxury. He had no way of telling that in the Face-Me-I-Face-You rented apartments of Oshodi and Mushin, the small I-Better-Pass-My-Neighbour generators of the little people run on petrol and not diesel.

stealing

Elite disconnect is not limited to how it manifested itself in SLS. Disturbing signs of it are already apparent in some of the public utterances of President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo. The effects of being closeted in Aso Rock, receiving only filtered rosy news about the rest of Nigeria from aides, are beginning to show. Last week, I was at the 2015 edition of the Ake Arts and Book Festival, one of Africa’s biggest literary festivals organized annually in Abeokuta by the novelist, Lola Shoneyin.

The country I saw was one in which pain, poverty, and lack are still very much the defining features of the daily lived experience of the people. Inflation is through the roof. By the time I bought N5000 airtime and drank a couple of beers and pepper soup, I had blown my first N20, 000 within minutes of landing in Nigeria. Yet, Governors are grumbling about N18, 000 minimum wage. A Nigerian is expected to live for a month on less than what I had blown on beer and recharge card within an hour! Electricity is next to none existent. And fuel scarcity had nearly brought life to a complete halt.

Yet, the very week I was in Nigeria contemplating these things and gnashing my teeth, Vice President Osinbajo was at the graduation of Senior Executive Course 37 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) in Kuru, where he declared, echoing his principal, that Nigeria has now “entered its glorious era.”

Glorious era? Whatever it is that President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo are drinking in the Villa, I certainly want part of it for their definition of glorious era would be patently funny if it weren’t so tragic. But I cannot have what they are drinking. What they are drinking is a brew called separation from reality. They are not lying when they say that Nigeria has entered its glorious era. They genuinely believe this because that is all that they see about Nigeria in their filtered bubble. That is what elite disconnect is all about. I doubt if their daily itineraries even allow them to see the fuel queues.

As Vice President Osinbajo was delivering the great news of Nigeria’s glorious era in Kuru, President Buhari was on his way to Iran for a meeting of gas exporting countries. What will be lost on the President in Tehran is that all the other Presidents he will be meeting cannot speak of a glorious era in their countries if the people were unable to get petrol and gas.

If elite disconnect manifested as lively ignorance in Sanusi’s instance and cute cluelessness in President Buhari’s and Vice President Osinbajo’s instances above, it comes across as crass arrogance and unbridled entitlement in the case of Diezani Allison-Madueke, immediate past Minister of Petroleum. She is battling cancer in London. I wish her well. May her creator and medical science heal her. Illness is usually a humbling occasion for sober reflection. Not for Madam Diezani. She has granted an interview to Dele Momodu to absolve herself of any wrongdoing in her service to Nigeria. That is fine.

The concluding part of that interview, now published, is a voyage into elite disconnect and hubris. Mrs Diezani basically makes a case for why Nigerians ought to be grateful to her for the routine of obeying the law and rules and doing her job by not wasting funds after they had lost the election! It is the sort of constipated, nonsensical, and condescending reasoning that has made supporters of the last order insist that President Jonathan be awarded a Nobel Prize for conceding an election he lost. So, what global prize do we award Diezani for not stealing or wasting money she could have stolen or wasted after the election? Mrs. Diezani clearly doesn’t get it. She doesn’t get it because of elite disconnect.

Can President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo do something about their own incipient elite disconnect? Yes they can. They must defy their aides – political aides are the unpatriotic lot who separate their principals from reality in Nigeria – and pay immersion visits to the real Nigeria from time to time.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El Rufai, once told me a story. He was very emotional when telling it. He visited every village in Kaduna during his gubernatorial campaign. In one village, he ran into an old friend he had not seen since they were in elementary school. The friend is a poor village farmer now. El Rufai gives him one thousand naira. The friend marveled at the sight of the naira note and told El Rufai that he had heard about 500 and 1000 naira notes but had never actually seen any in his life.

El Rufai told me that it was a humbling experience to be in the presence of a Nigerian who had vaguely heard about the existence of such naira denominations but had never actually seen them. It was an emotional moment for the governor and he told me it was something that will always have a direct bearing on his view of governance.

There are Nigerians in villages who have never seen a N500 note because they have never transacted business in anything that would involve more than the N200, N100, and N50 denominations. When was the last time President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo met and shook hands with a Nigerian who has never seen a N100 note? That Nigerian exists. He is in our villages and urban slums. To prevent elite disconnect, you have to cut through the crap that your political aides feed you about Nigeria’s glorious era, you have to break protocol once a month and go in search of such Nigerians. They will keep you grounded.

If you search hard enough, you will find a Nigerian who has never seen a N50 note.

You are his President and Vice President.

Find him.

Try telling him that Nigeria has entered a glorious era.